Lawyer: Ohio Police Recklessly and Senselessly Shot Man to Death

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — There was no justification for a Columbus police officer to fatally shoot a man lying in his bed while the offers were trying to serve warrants, an attorney representing the family of the man slain said Thursday while he demanded immediate changes in policing in the city and promised a lawsuit.

Attorney Rex Elliott questioned the speed of the shooting, which appears to occur on body camera footage a second or less after officer Ricky Anderson opened the door to a bedroom where Donovan Lewis was sleeping. Elliott made a point of criticizing the police chief’s suggestions that Lewis had something in his hand when he was shot. No weapon was found.

“There is absolutely no way in the time period between the door being opened and the gun being fired that Officer Anderson sensed a potential weapon in his hand, went through his brain, and then reacted by firing his weapon,” Elliott said.

Elliott was speaking at a news event attended by several members of Lewis’s family. “How many more lives are going to be lost to this kind of reckless activity? How many more young black lives will be lost? he said.

“How many more families like Donovan’s will have to show up at press conferences like this before our leaders do enough to put an end to these barbaric murders?” Elliott said.

Lewis, 20, died at a hospital after the shooting early Tuesday. Columbus police say officers had gone to the apartment around 2 a.m. to arrest Lewis on multiple warrants that included domestic violence, assault and felony mishandling of a firearm. Lewis was black and the officers were white.

Police arrested two other men at the apartment without incident. A police dog was unleashed on the apartment during the search.

Police body camera footage shows Officer Anderson opening a bedroom door in an apartment and within a second or less shooting Lewis, who was in bed. Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said Lewis appeared to be holding a vaporizer before he was shot, a notion Elliott disputed.

Bryant has not addressed whether police believed the device was a weapon, a determination that will be made during the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s investigation. Anderson has been placed on leave per city procedure. A message was left with the police union representing Anderson.

In body camera footage, Anderson is seen after the shooting raising a hand in demonstration to another officer and saying that Lewis raised his hand “like this.”

Elliott disputed this version of events, saying it’s unclear from the body camera footage if Lewis was holding anything. She said that Anderson fired long before he could have perceived a threat.

Elliott also questioned the need for an operation first thing in the morning. “The reality is that felony warrants are executed every day during the day,” he said.

Bryant has said the city is committed to holding officers accountable if there was any wrongdoing, but the state investigation must take place.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who hired Bryant last yearhas said that “regardless of the circumstances, a mother has lost her son in the city of Colón.”

The US Department of Justice agreed in 2021 to review Columbus Police Department practices after a series of fatal police shootings of black people, including the one in April 2021 Murder of Ma’Kiah Bryant, age 16. and the city’s response to the 2020 racial injustice protests.

Additionally, a three-year police contract approved last year provided $200,000 buyouts for up to 100 officers with at least 25 years of experience, with the goal of clearing the decks of employees who might disagree with the department’s new direction.

“If you’re going to be a police officer in the city of Columbus, you have to embrace Chief Bryant’s vision and leadership around change and reform,” Ginther said at the time.

Elliott acknowledged these actions but said it’s not enough.

“Whatever they’re doing, it’s not working,” he said.

Elliott said he plans a future civil lawsuit against Anderson and the city.

In May 2021, Columbus reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, shot to death in December 2020 as he was leaving a garage with his cell phone. Officer Adam Coy has pleaded not guilty to murder charges and is scheduled for trial in November.

In December, the city agreed pay $5.75 million to people injured during the 2020 protests against racial injustice and police brutality.


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